UK women missing out on job opportunities in rail

06/03/20

LNER International Womens Day 2020

LNER runs special ‘Flying Scotswoman’ service with all-female crew celebrating opportunities for women in the industry as part of International Women’s Day 2020.

London North Eastern Railway (LNER) is calling on the rail industry to encourage more women to consider a career in the rail industry, following research that found 85 per cent of women of working age in the UK have never considered a career in rail.  

LNER’s poll of women across the UK found the primary reason women are not considering the rail industry for their career is due to the perceived lack of a match between their skills and the jobs the sector offers, with six out of 10 women saying the industry is not relevant to their skills or expertise. 

Launching the results of the research on International Women’s Day, LNER’s People Director Karen Lewis said the rail industry needs to work harder to promote itself to women, who are missing out on a rich source of career opportunities. 

“There is a clear need for the industry to work together to demonstrate the unique opportunities on offer with a career in rail, and by doing so to help drive an increase in the number of women in the workplace,” Ms Lewis said. 

“LNER bucks the trend with women making up 42 per cent of our workforce, compared to an industry average of 16 per cent. Our diverse workforce is something we’re extremely proud of at LNER and we’re working hard to inspire and attract even more talented women to join the industry.  

“LNER has many examples of women who have remained in the business and progressed their careers due to having the right amount of support to do things like further their education or have families. Rail offers competitive salaries and a multitude of opportunities to progress careers, which we know are important factors for women in the working world of 2020.”  

Since taking over the East Coast route in 2018, LNER has demonstrated a track record in its commitment to successfully recruit more women into the business. In addition to a gender diversity split currently at 42 per cent, half of its Executive Board is also female.  

The research found that, at a time of significant investment and progression in the rail industry across the UK, many women are unaware of the benefits that come from working in the industry. More than half (52 per cent) of women say that if they were aware of a competitive salary rate and benefits in the industry, they would be more attracted to applying for roles.  

“The UK rail industry is at its most dynamic point in modern times with the roll out of new technologies, new fleets and big new projects that offer women a huge range of career opportunities,” Ms Lewis explained. 

“With 60 per cent of women citing that the industry is not relevant for their skills, it’s clear that women are not seeing the full spectrum of opportunities that rail offers.”  

LNER has a strong and diverse workforce across a variety of roles within the business including engineers, drivers, digital innovators, travel advisers, business analysts, dispatchers, chefs and legal and finance managers – all of which are critical in keeping services on the iconic East Coast route running.  

To celebrate International Women’s Day 2020, LNER is today rebranding its most iconic service – the ‘Flying Scotsman’ which runs from Edinburgh to London King’s Cross – and turning it into the ‘Flying Scotswoman’ for the month of March.

Staffed entirely by women, today’s service will display a special International Women’s Day livery and host a range of women from a variety of organisations in the rail industry as well as from LNER.  

The campaign from LNER launches as Network Rail has today launched a new target, aiming to increase female representation across its 41,000 strong workforce by 50 per cent by 2024, as part of its commitment to become more open, diverse and inclusive. The organisation has increased the number of women in the workforce by more than 500 in the last year alone, which contributes to a 21 per cent increase over the last five years. The rail organisation is committed to change and has introduced gender-neutral job descriptions, dedicated programmes to progress female workers into senior leadership roles, and a new returners programme to help women back into the workplace after long periods of time away.

Loraine Martins, Director of Diversity and Inclusion at Network Rail said: “We’ve made positive strides in the last five years, such as making our job adverts gender-neutral, introducing maternity buddying and a Women in Leadership Programme to ensure that more women are being considered for senior positions. We also need to get the basics right, which is why we are committed to improving facilities for women working on the front line. 

“This is about ensuring our organisation is as diverse as the communities we serve and valuing the contributions that everyone can make to our business. We will continue to work tirelessly to increase the proportion of women at Network Rail at all levels in our business, as well as developing the phenomenal talent that we already have.”

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